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October 18, 2017 : OUL's Minar selected to write poem for inauguration of Ohio University’s 21st President


scottThe Investiture of Ohio University’s 21st President, M. Duane Nellis featured Ohio University Lancaster Professor of English Scott Minar’s poem written to commemorate the investiture ceremony.


Minar was honored to be selected by the inauguration committee. “I was, and this is a British saying, gobsmacked—very surprised. My department colleague  wrote to ask me on behalf of the inauguration committee. I was and am deeply honored—both by the request and the inclusion of the poem in the program and ceremony.”


Although surprised, Minar accepted the challenge right away, “This request was so unusual in my experience that, strangely, I did not hesitate. I have to say, however, that I had no idea whether or not such a task could be done by me. I took it on for the adventure, I suppose—because it seemed such an interesting and honorable thing to do.”


lampThe poem was printed on the inauguration program as well as a card and lapel pin as the official keepsake of President Nellis’ inauguration. It is entitled “The Lamp Carrier” and Minar wrote it specifically for the Investiture Ceremony. “The poem is an extended metaphor in homage to the people who work in the highest leadership roles in university education. It is such an important job in so many ways. Dr. Nellis is a geographer by discipline, so part of the poem's inspiration lies in maps and natural history—but also in the connections between these things and what it is we are trying to accomplish together at places like OU. Its focus is on students, professors, and academic leaders. I have the advantage of being married to an academic dean, Dr. Roberta Milliken who is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at a university in southern Ohio. She told me once that her primary goal is to support in any ways that she can the teachers, researchers, and students in her college. She considers it very important work indeed. So do I.”


Minar’s career is peppered with awards and honors for outstanding teaching and professor of the year selections - he takes none of it for granted. “I think they have all been a surprise, the ones that have come specifically from students, from student organizations, have been very moving for me.  I have always said that teaching is very hard work; teaching writing is amazingly hard. There is so much to learn, so much to critique—so many different ways to do it right (or to go astray). But it is also a consuming task, like being an Anglican priest or a minister in some ways. Recognition is kind of the last thing you expect, because the task is so prominent in front of you. When it comes, I suppose we feel nothing but joy really. I feel deeply grateful and privileged by them all. People are very kind.”


Minar has a Ph.D in American Literature and Creative Writing from Ohio University. He taught his first class, as a graduate student, in 1979 and has been a tenured English professor at Ohio University Lancaster since 2000. Minar credits his early teachers for the direction he chose. “Some of it seems like magic or luck to me. I had the right teachers at the right time, I suppose. I had great teachers and many of them. I remember them all. Wandering around literature is like wandering around the Louvre or the Art Institute of Chicago.  There are so many wonderful things to be found there, the allure is almost irresistible—especially for a young person who like things of that sort. I knew nothing about creative writing back then. College taught me that. I took my first class, kept going, and never looked back.”


Minar is grateful for his regional campus experience. “My career as an educator and a writer has been amazingly rewarding. I have been lucky in ways that surprise me when I think about them. I want to highlight how proud I am of our regional campus students and faculty. We are Bobcats, one and all. My faculty and administrative colleagues have done so much to help steward and promote my work over the years. I want to say thank you and express my profound gratitude to all."


Minar’s latest book of poetry, Cymbalism, was published by Mammoth Books in 2016 and will appear in Arabic in the Middle East and Australia with a release date later this year.